I had been sitting in traffic on my daily commute to work; stewing. A parent had cut-me-off as I exited the parking lot, dropping off my youngest son at his school. I had then gotten stuck behind a slow driver who was texting and almost hit the crossing guard in the crosswalk. When the third car went out-of- turn at a four-way stop I threw my hands up in the air; mumbling epithets under my breath, in my vehicle.
Then a song caught my ear and I turned it up. Music can immediately change my mood, especially when I discover something new. I’m grateful to Coin’s new song, “Talk Too Much” for doing that for me this past week.
I work through my issues by voicing them or typing them and in a household of males, the hubs bears the brunt of this burden. I constantly chastise myself with why I can’t leave things unsaid.
My teens, surprisingly, are maturing and are now able to engage again in conversation with more than two words. Recently we’ve had some great discussions about the things happening in their lives.
As a teen I felt disconnected with my parents so any tidbits of information from any of my three sons are welcome. I know they do not tell me everything but I am grateful they choose to talk and willingly share something (without prodding).
The spontaneous texts from my girlfriends to meet for walks, coffee, brunch and Friday night beverages were most welcome. I’ve missed face time with fellow females and my schedule has finally opened up.
Most times I walk my path alone in the morning, watching the fog rise from the ground in eerie patches of mist. The silence and solitude allow me time to process and think through the various events occurring around me. But the issues don’t resolve themselves until I talk them out.
My hubs is always the first filter, the one I trust implicitly, but females are vastly different than males. He offers solutions and when I don’t take his advice he becomes frustrated. I merely want him to “hear me;” to affirm the words and things that I observe are, in fact, real. I want to talk through the scenarios, all umpteenth million of them, and consider the actions and reactions of those involved.
This is taxing for my dear hubs and so I am always grateful to the girlfriends who empathize; the ones who hear me. The ones who don’t judge or critique. These friends are rare and, over the years, I have discerned which ones I can feel affirmed with and, surprisingly, have gained a few new girlfriends along the way.
For a while I kept my thoughts and words for the hubs alone. I soul-searched for the person I was/am after feeling bitter disappointment in various things. This process allowed me to discover myself, both the good and bad, and in sorting and filtering I have been able to reconnect with my husband and family.
To engage. To say no. To let things go.
This has opened up space for me to discover things new.
To learn. To explore. To grow.
My sons have watched me struggle and have heard me with my hubs. For the boys to become decent men, they must have decent men in their lives to teach them these things. To learn how to navigate through friends; to sort and filter if they affirm them.
Our two older sons have recently had to go through this and in observing my own process and discovery, they had a path to guide them. Teenagers, today, are having to grow up faster and are exposed to more things due to technology.
This morning I had to acknowledge this fact after discovering that my son’s close friend posted a suicide letter on a chat page and was admitted to a hospital. At 12:59 AM my son received a text and a phone call from another close friend trying to help him. But my son and the hubs had been watching a movie downstairs; his phone upstairs on his bed unanswered and unseen.
This is the second time this scenario has played out, with an entirely different person and situation, in three months. But this one was close to home.
Growing up suicide letters were NOT the norm. But social media has become the primary means of communication versus face-to-face interactions. Talking has been replaced with typing and I wished my sons DID talk too much.
Instead, words are acronyms, memes and emoticons. When the son saw the jumping off a cliff meme with the GKY (Go Kill Yourself) acronym, he assumed it was a joke.
This would be unheard of even a decade before, but our children have become desensitized to these thoughts and ideas. When someone talks of cutting; kids roll their eyes. Prescribing prescription drugs for anxiety, depression and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have become common practice. Everything is immediate and easy; just take a pill.
I stood at this son’s bedside, this morning, after receiving the call from my girlfriend of his friend’s suicidal ideation. I quickly communicated with the other parents of my teen’s close circle.
This group of teens had just sat in our house on Friday evening talking. This teen was the only one missing from their group and I am grateful that I have engaged with my boys’ lives; that I know who their friends are. That I can open up my home to have them hang out on a Friday night so they can talk to one another, face-to-face or, most times, heads down texting phone to phone.
If ever I have appreciated the gift of hospitality and friendship, it is now.
We, moms, texted one another.
These kids, these days aren’t given coping skills. When they get the real world, they are ill equipped to cope. We protect them too much and don’t let them fail. How do we guide them?
This pack of teens have one another. They work things out together and that’s real life.
One of the moms decided to open up her home, next week, and cook dinner because all conversations go better with food. While our sons hang out, the parents will work through the issues to figure out how to navigate parenting today. Our kids try to do the best they can.
Although I have a conflict with this dinner my son told me my presence is important to him. So I must balance and make it work. For him.
When my sons, this weekend, determined they wanted to bake cookies…I stopped what I was doing. I rarely bake and all of my boys associate the holidays with their Mom baking cookies.
I took the time to directly look at my boys and frankly talk about what to do if your friend wants to commit suicide. Thankfully, the teens in the situation did the right thing and called 911. They were not critical nor judgmental. They heard a teen’s cry for help and brought in the proper authorities and people to see it through.
We, parents, need to follow things through.
Being a parent isn’t always about giving our kids the best things, sheltering them or doing work for them so that they won’t have to worry. They need to fail.
They need to learn how to navigate through stressful situations,with our guidance and support, to learn coping mechanisms to move forward. And they need friends.
It is important for our kids to watch parents work through their conflicts to find resolution. It is in talking too much with our friends, and spending face time that makes us human. In walking alongside other people’s struggles, or vice versa, we learn the power of the ties that bind.
It’s easy to be our own islands, to try to work things out ourselves. It is only in experiences that we can discern what a good friend is. It’s not someone to gossip with; nor is it a competition of who has more things or titles. It isn’t the one who brings in more money; nor is it the one who volunteers on PTA or booster boards.
We are not super Moms; we are all flawed. We try to do the best we can.
I texted this friend’s mom, to make sure her son is okay. The teens wanted to visit him. His friends are ready to be there for him.
Parenting is a community and today, I am grateful to be a member of it. Thanks to my fellow moms for being transparent and keeping it real.